Fall/Winter Road hazards
Well, fall is here and winter is approaching . I thought I'd do up a little list of common hazards as I see them as we get closer and closer to the colder/wetter months.
First off, even before you decide to ride during these months, review your bike. Inspect it and make sure that everything is in fine working order Lights, tires, brakes, horn…ect.
Driver Awareness - First off....they don't expect you to be out there in the colder months. Drivers for the most part think of motorcycles as fair weather modes of transportation. So, they don't expect you and can't hear you over every other distraction they have (windows up, defrost/heater on, and the cranked up stereo). Its your job to make yourself noticed as always. Never ride in a blind spot and be aware of your surroundings and where all the cages are.
Rain – Riding in the rain can be fun believe it or not. It takes a little more patiance. First off, make sure your tires are good and you have ample tread depth. The treads is what will channels the water away from your tires giving you traction. Also, I ride with my highbeams on at all times during the day. Riding in the rain is all about throttle control and being smooth on and off the gas and brakes. If you hammer the throttle, you’ll spin up the tire and if you chop the throttle, you could slide the rear. Ride slower then normal and be aware of where you are on the road. Try to stay out of the ruts because the water will collect in these areas and may cause you to hydroplane. When stopping, increase the amount of rear brake. Increase the distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Be aware of the trucks sharing the road as well and try to stay out of their blindspots and windblast area. Grabbing too much front brake may cause loss of traction with the front tire and you may find yourself on the ground. When cornering, keep the bike fairly verticle and make sure that you finish your braking before you start your turn. Parking lots and intersections have large amounts of grease and oil buildups. Look ahead and identify these and try to avoid them. Remember that avoiding doesn’t mean travelling into the oncoming lane though. While riding, try to avoid anything that is painted on the road surface if possible. Cross walks, stop lines, painted arrows, painted medians….are all your enemy. Even changing lanes under throttle could have your rear tire break out on you. Road filler or “tar snakes” are bad enough in the dry, just imagine what they feel like in the rain. Take it easy and relax.
Tire warming - Tires will take a little longer to come up to a decent temp. Take the extra few minutes to assure yourself that the tire are warm. Tires will also cool alot quicks as well. They will never have the same traction as if it were warm out. Ride a little slower and try not to blitz through traffic because neither you nor the cages will be able to slow and stop as quickly as in warmer temps.
Morning Dew - Dew is that small film of water that covers everthing in the mornings and evenings. In combination with the painted surfaces of the streets, its becomes extremely slick. Watchout for anything painted (cross walks, stop lines, those damn turn arrows) or road filler (tar snakes) because they can be deadly.
Fog – Riding in BC in the fall, we see quite a bit of this stuff. Remember what fog is, it’s a low-lying cloud so that means moisture. When you enter a fog bank you’ll notice almost instantly moisture collecting on your visor. Slow down because of visibility. Try to keep your visor clean and if you can’t see, pull over and clean your visor. Remember to make sure all of your lights are working properly….they will be one of the only things drivers will be able to see.
Fall Leaves - Watch out for leaves covering the roads. The leaves by themselves can be extremely hazardess. With even the slightest bit of moisture they become extremely slick and will put you on your arse quicker then you think. When I travel down side streets, I try to keep the bike as upright as possible and use more rear brake when riding over the leaves. In the fall its all about getting there, not how fast you can get there.
Clothing – Dress and pack for the conditions. Carry a set of rain gear if you can. Dress in layers:
- Your outer layer should be something that will break the wind
- You should have internal layers that pack air but are not cotton or wool which absorb moisture. Instead they should be synthetic so that tiny water particles are wicked to the outer layers.
- Electric vests and grips do help.
- Clean your visor regularly with pledge (furniture cleaner), it will reduce the amount of fog on your vsor. Other products are available as well, but keep your vision unobstructed and clear.
Now 5C isn't too cold. All you need is an outer layer to block the wind.... if you have a non-perforated leather jacket or full leathers they should work. Internal layers should consist of DRIFIT or fleece type of materials.
So - leather jacket+fleece vest+ a thin synthetic shirt and you should be cool.... along with track pants jeans and thermals.
TO WARM UP YOUR HANDS... place them on the engine covers (at a stop light + with leather gloves on) .... that feels sooo nice when your hands are cold.
Any other hazards, please feel free to post them up.
Safe riding everyone .